DataMapWales: Ready, Beta, Go!

Darllenwch y dudalen hon yn Gymraeg

In my previous blog in November I briefly touched upon the first DataMapWales app, Active Travel. In this post, I will update you on this, how our beta launch has gone, and what’s next.

The journey so far

For anyone unfamiliar with DataMapWales, our vision is:

To create a single geospatial data source and processing platform for all public sector geospatial data in Wales. The aim is to produce a shared data platform for public bodies to be able to publish their data that enables everyone to access the data they need; Government, Citizen, Voluntary sector and Commerce.

Following on from our alpha version, the beta version of DataMapWales was launched on March 1st and is now fully open for public testing.  This version, which is readily available to everyone, means that you can browse, search, configure maps, download data and access live feeds from GIS software.

This supports many aspects of the new Digital Strategy for Wales. In developing DataMapWales we have followed the draft digital standards developed by the Centre for Digital Public Services and worked with users of the system to make sure it meets their needs through a series of “sprints” and “show and tells”. It also supports our ambitions to provide joined-up data and services, based on common platforms, and to make sure data is available easily for those who wish to access it.

What exactly is Beta?

The beta phase of development is where we take our best ideas from the alpha version and start building it for real. It involves thinking about how our service will integrate with (or start to replace) existing services, and preparing for the transition to live. 

During this phase our aim is to focus on making sure that the solution we’ve developed (in this case DataMapWales) works as well as possible by carrying out user research and starting to gather data on how successful the service is and adapt the service based on what we learn from the users.

What we need from you

As we gather feedback during the beta phase and beyond, we will refine and fine tune DataMapWales so that it provides the functionality and features a rich set of tools to support our public services, citizens and commerce.

We are now encouraging anyone to give it a go and provide feedback, good or bad, so that we can build on the work done so far.  We want to know about any bugs, ideas, issues with Welsh Language or accessibility.  We will also monitor speed and performance of the system and comments about the data itself. 

If this is something you’d be interesting in getting involved in, or you just want to see what we’ve been up to, then you can access the DataMapWales beta site using the following link: https://datamap.gov.wales

And if you do have any feedback then please drop us a line at: DMWSupport@gov.wales

For the best experience, we recommend using a modern browser; Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge (chromium), Apple Safari or similar.   Some features are not compatible with Microsoft internet Explorer (soon to be phased out). 

Active Travel – Our first app

If you’ve not heard of Active Travel previously, the Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013 places duties on Local Authorities. One of these is for them to produce maps of existing active travel routes, related facilities, and future routes within their area. These form what is known as the Active Travel Network Map (ATNM), which is the local authority’s blueprint for its active travel integrated network.

So what’s this got to do with DataMapWales? Well, the newly developed DataMapWales Active Travel app is now the approved system for local authorities to both prepare their ATNM and for submitting the map to the Welsh Ministers for approval

By working closely with the Welsh Government Active Travel team, Local Authorities and our external delivery partner over the last 8 months, we’ve developed a DataMapWales app which also went live on March 1st.  This means that Local Authorities are now able to manage Active Travel data in one place, giving staff and Ministers one place to see an overall picture of Active Travel across Wales.

What’s on the horizon?

DataMapWales continues to be used to support Wales Covid recovery plans, from mapping best sites for vaccination centres, to drive time analysis for temporary hospitals and planning for a healthier Wales through initiatives such as Active Travel.

It will also play a part in many aspects of our post-Covid world, from planning, consulting, analysing, sharing and understanding our physical and numerical world and the new ways we want to interact, both in work and play. 

We’ve also got a number of other applications in the pipeline covering a range of topics from the environment, transport, public protection, health and welfare, consultations, marine, emergency planning, asset management and education to name a few. So there’s plenty for us to be getting on with!

We will of course continue to keep you updated, so please keep an eye out for the next instalment of updates on DataMapWales in the near future

Kevin Williams – DataMapWales Product Manager


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